- Created on Saturday, 15 December 2012 00:48
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Act Now! Land Clearing Laws Under Attack
The very sustainability of farming and the environment depends on a healthy landscape, soils and rivers. Land clearing is recognised as the greatest threat to biodiversity as well as being a leading cause of salinity. It also plays a major role in water quality issues such as algal blooms. Protecting biodiversity and bushland is integral to a living landscape. However, across Australia conservative governments such as in NSW and Queensland are reviewing land clearing controls and threatened species protection laws at the behest of farmers and developers who want to remove valuable bushland.
TEC is campaigning to defend these much needed laws.
See next page for our media releases and updates on the review process.
Less than a decade ago NSW had one of the worst records for land clearing in the world. In 2004 the state sat behind only Indonesia, Bolivia, the Congo and Brazil in the rate at which native vegetation was being bulldozed.
Pre-European vegetation Native vegetation today
In 2003 and 2005 laws were introduced to end broadscale land clearing in NSW. Although slow to be enforced the regulations did result in significant reductions in land clearing across the state, particularly in the ‘wheat belt’ and central west where the problem had been at its worst.
A majority of farmers value their environment and are able to use NSW’s Native Vegetation laws to their advantage. Current laws encourage landowners to formulate a plan for their land, access funding to protect native vegetation on their properties, and at the same time gain a better understanding of what environmental assets their area contains. Property values are also known to be higher on land where native vegetation has been retained, while pockets of native vegetation are also known to lessen water losses and provide habitat for the natural predators of farm pests.
However, some farmers wish to entirely remove the laws that protect our landscapes and there is also significant pressure to weaken the scientifically developed rules that control applications to clear.
Twenty two mammal, 56 bird, 12 reptile, 4 amphibian and over 140 plant species listed as threatened in NSW have been named by the NSW Scientific Committee as being adversely affected by land clearing. Federal Environment Department figures show that for every 100 hectares of woodland cleared the habitat of 1,000 to 2,000 birds is permanently destroyed, while in some ecosystems up to 200 reptiles will be killed per hectare cleared.
Weakening the laws will once again putt millions of hectares of bushland at risk.